Weapons: SOCOM Seeks a Better Bullet

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June 25, 2006: The United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is offering to buy large quantities of improved 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunition for its assault rifles and machine-guns. The offer was issued on June 8th, 2006. Responses are expected within three weeks. SOCOM wants ammo that offers improvements in accuracy, penetration of hard objects (steel, concrete, tempered glass), reduced flash, and increased tissue damage. The new ammo must also pass muster on environmental (no lead or other nasty stuff) and legal (Geneva Conventions) grounds.

For a long time, one of the major benefits of SOCOM was their ability to quickly try out anything. SOCOM does not have much of an obstructionist bureaucracy, and they have lots of money for this sort of thing. For the rest of the ground combat forces (soldiers and marines), this is a major plus. What works for SOCOM, will usually work for the other ground troops. What doesn't work for SOCOM, can usually be safely ignored.

SOCOM is unhappy with the current ammo. Apparently the effort to replace the 5.56mm round with a 6.8mm one has stalled. Thus SOCOM is dangling a large ammo contract in front of industry. Come up with something good enough, and SOCOM will buy it. The offer includes experimental rounds, if the developer can convince SOCOM that the stuff can be gotten into production within 24 months. Preferably, SOCOM would like some of the new stuff right away, or at least before the end of the year.

 


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